It is known by a lot of names, among them smack, horse, brown sugar, dope, H, junk, skag and skunk.
Its most common name, though, is heroin. By any name, it is an insidious, addictive, deadly drug.
We mention it as we recognize the superlative police work involved with the arrests during the past three months of six New York City and Otsego County residents alleged to be major traffickers of this terrible poison.
The arrests culminated a two-year effort dubbed “Operation Dial Tone” by the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, the Albany office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Oneonta Police Department and county District Attorney John Muehl.
On Dec. 7, sheriff’s deputies Keith Sheldon and Michael Stalter stopped a car for an equipment violation and asked the driver and two other occupants if they had visited New York City lately. They said no, but Sheldon noticed New York City parking tickets on the dashboard, and Stalter saw a syringe in the inside door handle.
Sheldon’s K-9 dog “zeroed in” on a gaming console and baseball cap in the back seat. A search of the car assisted by DEA agents and Oneonta police officers discovered 209 heroin packets, valued at $8,180, in the console and a small amount of crack cocaine in the cap.
Daniel P. Parrotte, 24, of Mount Upton, Eric Doherty, 22, of Unadilla, and Azar K. Hughes, 24, of Oneonta were arrested for third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies, along with other charges.
Three other substantial heroin arrests followed, including that in February of Anays Garcia, 25, the girlfriend of major drug trafficker Jose “Flip” Rodriguez, who is serving a 40-year sentence at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill.
Garcia was arrested when she visited Rodriguez, and she faces charges connected with directing the heroin trafficking operation from New York City to Otsego County. She could spend the next 54 years in prison if convicted.
Locally, it can cost $6 for a “button” of heroin, less than a six-pack of most beers. Over the last decade, Mexican cartels developed a form of heroin so pure that it doesn’t have to be injected. It can be snorted or swallowed … with even more-deadly results.
The cops can do the best job they can, but it can be like a game of Whac-A-Mole, where you hit one drug peddler only to have another pop up … and another … and another.
What we can do to help is to educate our young people about the dangers of heroin and other drugs, report suspicious activity to the authorities … and watch our kids closely — very closely.